May 15, 2018, by Mel Ferguson

Launch of new monthly hearing research blog during Deaf Awareness Week

Welcome to our new monthly blog on the research that we carry out on mild to moderate hearing loss at the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre.

We have launched the blog during Deaf Awareness Week 2018 as part of our mission to raise the importance of hearing loss, as well as to spread the word on the research we are doing to help promote healthy hearing.

Our first foray into blogging was on World Hearing Day 2018 in March, which can be viewed here. Each month we will talk about some aspect of our research. This month we want to give a brief overview of our research programme.

Mild to moderate hearing loss in the UK

Our focus is on mild to moderate hearing loss in adults, which affects 10 million people in the UK – that is 15% or nearly 1 in 6 of the population. That’s a lot of people. In fact, mild to moderate hearing loss affects 92% of all those with hearing loss. A future blog will talk about how the term ‘mild to moderate hearing loss’ underplays the impact this has on those who live with it on a daily basis.

What research do we do?

The overall aim of our research is to seek new knowledge and clinical strategies to help overcome the effects of hearing loss and to improve social participation and quality of life.

We have three main research areas. Over the coming months we will look at each of these in more detail, but briefly they are:

eHealth and Self-management looks at ways that hearing healthcare can be delivered through the internet and mobile technologies, such as smartphones and tablets. An example of this is C2Hear Online, a series of videos to help new hearing aid users to better understand how to use hearing aids and to self-manage hearing loss. See here for a link to C2Hear Online.

Listening devices includes not only research on conventional hearing aids but also some of the new technologies that are being developed to deliver hearing healthcare to improve hearing and listening. A recent high-level systematic review of the scientific literature showed that hearing aids are effective at improving listening ability, hearing and general health-related quality of life.

Listening and cognition looks at the role of cognitive processes, such as memory and attention, have on listening. We have looked at the benefits of computerised auditory training, which involves active listening to small parts of words (phonemes). As we hear with our ears but listen with our brain, we are currently developing an auditory–cognitive training programme. Other research looks at the relationship of hearing loss with dementia and mental health.

Underpinning our research are general principles of health behaviour change, patient-centred care and the best ways to deliver interventions.

Who are we?

Our enthusiastic and vibrant research team comes from a variety of backgrounds – audiology, hearing science, psychology and sociology. We collaborate with experts from a range of areas, including health behaviour change, eLearning, cognition and dementia, as well as people with hearing loss and their partners.

Look out for next blog in June, which will be on ‘Measuring the Impact of Hearing Loss‘.

The Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss team thank you for reading.

(L-R: Wasim Hussein, Helen Henshaw, Krysta Siliris, Eithne Heffernan, Melanie Ferguson, David Maidment, Rachel Gomez, Yasmin Ali)

Written by: Dr Mel Ferguson, Consultant Clinical Scientist and Associate Professor in Hearing Sciences, Research Lead for Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss

NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre

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